Healing between Spirit and Medicine
Washington National Cathedral, Washington, D.C.. December 1, 2006
Larry Dossey, MD
I want to thank the Cathedral College for inviting me, and also the Washington Society of Jungian Psychology for co-sponsoring this event. It is inspiring to be here, in one of the most glorious cathedrals in the world, to talk about health and healing and matters of the spirit.
I'm afraid I may depress you at the outset. But the fact is, we are in big trouble in our country where healthcare is concerned. There is a tremendous amount of delusion about how well we're doing. I'm not talking about the 40 million Americans have no healthcare insurance, although that in itself is shameful. I'm referring to how well modern medicine works for those who do have full access to it. Let's take a look.
Barbara Starfield, a respected epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, reported in 2000 in the Journal of the American Medical Association that each year in the United States over 200,000 patients die in hospitals because of medical errors and the side effects of pharmaceutical drugs. This makes hospital care the third leading cause of death in America, behind heart disease and cancer.
Some authorities have argued about these statistics, and have managed to demote hospital care to "only" the fifth or sixth leading cause of death in our country, as if this is some great achievement. It isn't; these facts remain a national scandal.
It's not just medical errors and the side effects of medications that are a concern, but also how well they work even when they are used properly.
Richard Smith, editor of the British Medical Journal, has said, "[O]nly about 15% of medical interventions are supported by solid scientific evidence…."
Dr. David Grimes, of the University of California/San Francisco School of Medicine, writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association, agrees, saying, "Much, if not most, of contemporary medicine still lacks a scientific foundation."
As early as 1978, the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment found that only an estimated 10 to 20% of the medical interventions that physicians use are empirically proven.
Things have gotten a little better in recent years, but the situation remains serious.
For example, earlier this year the British Medical Journal assessed 2,404 treatments and found evidence that only 36% could be rated as either beneficial or likely to be beneficial.
If you're not sufficiently depressed, let me keep going.
We are the world's wealthiest nation, yet we rank17th in longevity on a list of 33 industrialized nations. Among these 33 nations, we rank near the bottom in infant mortality, better only than Latvia. ,
It looks as if we will not be able to spend our way out of this situation. For example, we already spend 2-1/2 times as much per capita on medical care as in the UK. But according to an analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in May 2006, US residents are much less healthy than our English counterparts, and these differences exist at all levels - high, middle, and low-income brackets.
So what's missing in our healthcare system?
One of the great consolations of my life is that I am not assigned the task of fixing our healthcare system.
But I do have the luxury of complaining about it.
One of my complaints is that that something has been left out. This "something" includes, I suggest, is a role for consciousness, mind, and spirit.
Now, don't hold your breath for a precise definition of these factors. No one can define them precisely, I invite you to define for yourselves what consciousness, mind, and spirit may mean.
I think sometimes it's best not to nail down these terms with specific definitions - a position taken by Dr. Lewis Thomas, the famous essayist who for many years was director of research at Sloan-Kettering.
So that's the approach I'll take - and I invite you to use your own ideas for what these terms may mean.
It may be blasphemous to discuss these issues here tonight, because we are only a short distance from the National Institutes of Health, the most prestigious medical research organization in the world.
Many of my friends at the NIH would not be comfortable making any link between spirit and medicine. They would say that medicine ought to be about hard science, not this mind or spirit stuff.
So why bring up this notion of spirit?
One reason is that ordinary citizens want it brought up. When people get sick, they want more than drugs, surgery, and high-tech procedures.
In 2003, a survey of nearly 2 million patients, involving a third of all the hospitals in the United States, found that one of the lowest patient satisfaction ratings was in the emotional and spiritual aspects of care they experience when they get sick.
This area had one of the worst ratings among all clinical care indicators, and was an area in greatest need of improvement.
We often hear healthcare professionals put down spirituality by calling it "touchy-feely."
What's so bad about that?
I think "touchy-feely" is a grand compliment in disguise.
Modern medicine should be about touch.
It should be about feelings.
Please permit me a personal story.
I bumped into the power of touch quite accidentally when I was a senior at the University of Texas at Austin, finishing my work in pharmacy and pre-med, preparing to enter medical school that fall. I came down with acute appendicitis. The surgery was a rushed-up affair that took place in the Student Health Center. I never met the surgeon beforehand; he thought it unnecessary. Neither did I meet the anesthesiologist. When I awoke I was anxious, alone, and in pain. I still had not laid eyes on my surgeon, nor did I know what was found at surgery. Then something simple happened. A nurse came by and held my hand. She said, "Don't worry, Larry; everything will be fine." It was -as if a switch was turned: the pain vanished, along with the anxiety, fear, and aloneness. A simple touch, and just a few words. That event was seared into my brain and has stayed with me ever since.
There's not enough touch to go around in our hospitals. Studies in certain critical care units have shown that patients can go up to 48 hours and longer without actually being touched by a nurse or physician or any other human being.
The champion of touch in the U.S. is Dr. Tiffany Field, a psychologist who founded the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine.
Dr. Field has identified a touch deprivation syndrome in infants.
Studies in neonatal intensive care units show that babies who are massaged three times a day for ten days gain weight faster and leave the hospital an average of six days earlier than infants who are not frequently touched and massaged.
She finds that massage lowers stress hormones in babies.
It stimulates the babies' production of growth hormone and insulin - and serotonin, which is what many antidepressants do.
Research in orphanages in eastern Europe has shown that babies who are deprived of touch experience severe growth delays.
In pre-school kids, massage boosts performance on intelligence tests.
In adults, it increases performance of mathematical calculations.
So much for the "touch" part of "touchy-feely."
What about the "feely" part - feelings: emotions, attitudes, meanings, and so on?
This moves us into the content of our consciousness, our mind.
I became interested in the role of the mind in health by a very circuitous route. From my early teens, I was afflicted with classical migraine headache-not just severe headache but also severe nausea, vomiting, incapacitation, and-the worst thing-partial blindness. No medications worked; I tried everything. In medical school it got much worse. I actually tried to drop out of medical school because became an ethical issue for me. I felt it was only a matter of time until I had an attack of partial blindness while taking care of a patient, perhaps in surgery, and I might harm them. My faculty advisor would not permit me to drop out; he said it would get better. It got worse. By the time I finished my training in internal medicine in the early 1970s, a new treatment for migraine emerged: biofeedback.
Biofeedback was discovered quite accidentally by researchers at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas, to be effective for migraine. As you may know, this is a technique in which one uses imagery, visualization, and profound relaxation to quiet the body and the mind, assisted by high-tech gadgets that measure and feed back information to you about things such as your muscle tension, skin temperature, blood pressure, and other bodily processes you ordinarily are not aware of. I chased all over the country, in desperation, attending workshops on this technique. The result for me was astonishing. The headaches stopped almost completely. This simple mind-body intervention probably saved my career.
I was impressed. I became certified in teaching biofeedback and set up a biofeedback laboratory at the Dallas Diagnostic Association. For years I taught biofeedback to my patients in my internal medicine practice.
I began to follow mind-body research closely, which in the 70s and 80s was exploding.
Eventually I became interested in not only the role of emotions in health, but the role of spirituality as well.
This work was pioneered by Dr. Jeff Levin, whose work on spirituality and health was funded for years by the NIH. I strongly recommend his excellent book God, Faith, and Health.
In the 1980s, scores of studies began to emerge suggesting that people who followed some sort of religious path in their life had better health than people who did not. This pattern was seen even following major surgical procedures such as hip replacement. This trend appeared to be life-long. If people stuck to a religious or spiritual practice - it seemed not to matter which one they chose - they appeared statistically to have a lower incidence of nearly all the major diseases, including heart disease and cancer.
This effect was not trivial. The data suggested that spiritual practices were correlated with huge increases in longevity-from 7 to 13 years in some surveys.
In the late 80s, studies examining the impact of intercessory prayer began to emerge. These experiments suggested that one's prayers - or one's compassionate, loving intentions for someone else - could make a difference in that person's life, even when the individual was unaware they were being prayed for.
Now, the medical schools in our country had a hard time coming to grips with this all this information.
In 1993, only 3 of the nation's 125 medical schools had any kind of course work examining the relationship between spiritual practices, prayer, and health outcomes.
But then something amazing happened. If you fast-forward to today, over 90 of the nation's medical schools have such courses.
What made this happen?
There is a pesky little 4-letter word that made all the difference: data.
What does it show?
Currently, there are over 1200 studies suggesting that, as I have mentioned, people who follow a spiritual path live longer and are healthier than people who do not. And there is also a growing body of evidence that intercessory prayer is correlated with better health outcomes.
Now let me give you an insider's view of this spirituality-and-health field.
Already it has settled into two domains. One is the religion-and-health area, in which researchers examine the correlations between specific religious behaviors, such as church attendance, on health. This field is alive and well and is growing. It really is not all that controversial, with a few exceptions, because most physicians can explain these connections by way of common sense. For example, religious folk often have pretty good health habits. They may smoke less and drink less. They may tend toward vegetarianism. They have good social support systems, by virtue of belonging to a socially cohesive congregation of like-minded individuals. All theses factors are good for your health. Combine them, and it's no surprise to many that religious folk might live longer and be healthier than non-religious folk.
But it's when one looks at the prayer-and-healing field that controversy gets lively. Why? Currently there is no accepted explanation about how remote, distant, intercessory prayer could work.
Currently in medicine, we are wedded to the notion that the mind and consciousness are private. They stay home in the brain and body of the individual. Your thoughts, emotions, attitudes, and beliefs may affect you, but they just cannot make a difference in someone else.
But there is a problem. The actual experiments don't seem to have got the message that they can't work. Currently there are 19 major randomized, double-blind, controlled clinical trials in intercessory, distant prayer. Eleven of these studies show statistically significant results, suggesting that prayer can influence others at a distance. Eleven out of 19 is far more than you'd expect by chance happenings.
Let me give you an example of one of these studies, in which healers manage to bring about a change in a distant subject.
Researcher Jeanne Achterberg and her colleagues recruited eleven healers from the island of Hawaii. Each healer selected a person they knew, with whom they felt an empathic, compassionate, bonded connection, to be the recipient of their healing efforts, which the researchers called distant intentionality (DI). The healers were not casually interested in healing; they had pursued their healing tradition an average of 23 years. They described their healing efforts as sending energy, prayer, or good intentions, or thinking of the individual in the scanner and wishing for them the highest good. Each recipient was placed in an MRI scanner and was isolated from all forms of sensory contact with the healer. The healers sent forms of DI that related to their own healing practices at two-minute random intervals that were unknown to the recipient. Significant differences between the experimental (send) and control (no send) conditions were found; there was less than approximately one chance in 10,000 that the results could be explained by chance happenings (in the language of science, p = 0.000127). The areas of the brain that were activated during the "send" periods included the anterior and middle cingulate areas, precuneus, and frontal areas.
In another phase of this study, the healers tried to influence individuals they did not know. In this no experiment, no positive results were found.
This study suggests that compassionate, healing intentions are real, and that an empathic connection between the healer and the recipient is a vital part of the process-just like with prayer in real life.
I like this study because it uses prayer the way it's used in real life. For example, we say we "pray for our loved ones." This means we know them, we care deeply for them, and we pray for them unconditionally.
But some prayer experiments, such as the well-known Harvard prayer experiment that made headlines in the spring of 2006, and which failed to show any positive results (and which in fact found negative results suggesting harm), fail to replicate prayer as it's used in real life. The Harvard study, for instance, was made up of strangers praying for strangers. Prayer was not offered unconditionally to two of the three groups. Nowhere in the world is prayer used like this. It is not surprising that these studies do not show positive results.
Critics of this field abound, as you might expect, because these findings contradict our conventional beliefs about the nature of consciousness - that's it's a material process originating in the brain, and confined to an individual person.
Critics know in advance that these studies must be wrong, even though they sometimes cannot specify why.
This conviction often goes beyond science and begins to resemble blind faith - which is ironic, because "faith" is what the critics accuse believers in prayer as being guilty of.
I take a perverse pleasure in collecting comments from leading skeptics of the idea that the mind can do something out there in the world, as in healing and prayer.
For your amusement, here are some examples.
G. R. Price, an expert in the field of game theory, said, "Not 1000 experiments with ten million trials and by 100 separate investigators giving total odds against chance of one-thousandth to 1 [could make me accept ESP]."
Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894), one of the greatest physicists of the 19th century, said, "I cannot believe it. Neither the testimony of all the Fellows of the Royal Society, nor even the evidence of my own senses would lead me to believe in the transmission of thought from one person to another independently of the recognized channels of sensation. It is clearly impossible."
The famous French physicist, Jean Bernard Foucault (1819-1868), said, "If I saw a straw moved by the action of my will, I should be terrified…. If the influence of mind upon matter does not cease at the surface of the skin, there is no safety left in the world for anyone."
One famous scientist who was critical of this general field said recently, "This is sort of thing I would not believe in, even if it were true."
What is going on here? These comments suggest that openness in science is not as great as it is often claimed.
Scientists can be as prejudiced as anyone else where new ideas are concerned - particularly when these ideas involve consciousness and spirituality.
Critics often defend their position by saying, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."
But who decides what is extraordinary?
No matter how extensive the evidence for a role of consciousness and spirituality in healing, the evidence is never enough.
Skeptics simply raise the bar a little higher, or put the goal line a little farther away - or apply what's been called the "rubber ruler."
There is a joke that expresses this point.
A man gives up his day job and runs off to the circus. He tells the circus owner that he wants to join the circus. The owner says, "Show me what you do." The man climbed the mast post to the top of the tent. Then he jumped off. He flapped and flapped his arms and flew all around the top of the tent. Then the man made a perfect landing in front of the circus owner. The man said to the owner, "What do you think?" The circus owner said, "You can't be serious. All you do is a bird imitation?"
Why are these ideas met with so much resistance?
For one thing, there's the problem of bad timing. New ideas can be premature and not fit with current concepts. As Harvard psychologist William James, the father of American psychology, said in the late 1800s, "We feel neither curiosity nor wonder concerning things so far beyond us that we have no concepts to refer to or standards by which to measure them."
Then there is the problem of sheer obstinacy and resistance to change. It is simply more comfortable to stay in a rut. Don't rock the boat.
As Mark Twain said, "I'm all for progress. It's change I can't stand."
A classic quote comes from a leading biologist to Harvard psychologist William James, around 1900. The skeptical scientist said, "Even if … [an afterlife] were true, scientists ought to band together to keep it suppressed and concealed. It would undo the uniformity of Nature …without which scientists cannot carry on their pursuits."
Dean Radin, one of the most gifted consciousness researchers in the country, has written a fine book titled Entangled Minds. In it, he described four stages that all scientific truths in medicine pass through.
First, skeptics say there is no effect.
Second, skeptics concede that there may be an effect, but it is not clinically significant.
Third, they admit that the effect is real and is more significant than they thought.
Fourth, they say, "We thought of it first."
So we shall keep plugging away in the consciousness-and-spirituality field in medicine, realizing all along that not everybody will be convinced by the evidence. Some people will never come around, no matter how profound the evidence.
As physicist Max Planck said, paraphrasing, "Science changes funeral by funeral."
I admire advice that was given by the late astronomer Carl Sagan in his commencement speech at UCLA June 14, 1991: "It is the responsibility of scientists never to suppress knowledge, no matter how awkward that knowledge is, no matter how it may bother those in power. We are not smart enough to decide which pieces of knowledge are permissible and which are not...."
We are in one of the world's great cathedrals, and we are approaching Advent.
So let me mention two issues that are appropriate for this time and place.
The first is the power of music -specifically, the power of Christmas carols.
Consider the case of Gerry McGlinchey, a 66-year-old man who suffered a brain hemorrhage from diving into a swimming pool in September 1999 in Cyprus. After spending 5 weeks in a coma, he was flown home to University Hospital, Aintree, Lancashire, where he could only respond with "Yes" and "No" to questions. Things changed abruptly on December 21 when a volunteer choir visited the hospital to sing Christmas carols. When they sang "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," McGlinchey suddenly chimed in as his relatives listened in amazement. Then, with gusto and word-perfect clarity, he sang his heart out with "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," "The First Noel," and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."
Around the same time, Shawn Culle, a 27-year-old school teacher lay unconscious in Basildon General Hospital in Tilbury, Essex, as a result of meningitis. Then 15 children from St. Mary's Primary School, where he was a teacher, arrived and sang Christmas carols to him. From the moment they started singing, Culle began twitching and kicking and tried to remove his endotracheal tube. The nurses started to weep. Soon after, he was taken off life support. He was discharged two weeks later and made a full recovery.
David Aldridge, Chair of Qualitative Research in Medicine, University of Witten Herdecke in Witten, Germany, reports other cases in which comatose patients in intensive care units have gained consciousness when a music therapist softly sings certain melodies to them.
The second phenomena that is particularly appropriate for this time and place is miracle cures - or what the timid in my profession call "anomalous responses."
Albert Einstein (1879-1955) said, "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."
David Ben-Gurion agreed, saying, "[I]n order to be a realist you must believe in miracles."
Here's what one looks like.
Rita Klaus fist developed her first symptoms of multiple sclerosis as a cloistered nun in 1960. ,
Unable to meet the demands of convent life, she was given dispensation from her vows, finished her college degree in biology, and became a science teacher in a junior high school outside Pittsburgh.
She married and had three children.
Her disease progressed rapidly and soon she was confined to a wheelchair, with complete paralysis of both feet and ankles. Contractures and muscle spasms caused deformities of her legs, along with intractable sciatic pain.
Certain she would never walk again, her doctors surgically severed the tendons in her legs that kept her kneecaps in place. This permitted her to hobble short distances inside her house with full-length leg braces and forearm crutches.
Although formerly extremely religious, her spiritual beliefs evaporated like a snowball on a hot stove. "It's a bunch of malarkey," she said. "God does not intervene in the natural order. Every time I see these televangelist creeps, I feel like puking."
In spite of her rejection of her former beliefs, she allowed her husband to take her to a church service where healing was performed, during which she was prayed over, touched, and hugged. She felt "the strangest experience.... There was just this white light, a feeling of absolute love like I'd never felt coursing through me. I felt forgiven and at peace. I wasn't physically healed, but had peace of heart, of knowing I was loved and could weather anything."
The years passed and her disease got worse. Her doctors told her that her nerves and tissue were damaged irreversibly, that there was no hope of improvement, and that it was only a matter of time before she would be bed-ridden.
But in the ensuing years her faith returned and she resumed her prayers. One night she had a dream which she interpreted as a summons to the healing site in Medjugorje, Yugoslavia. But she had no money to travel - until a month later when someone gave her a financial gift that made the trip possible. She made the trip, but nothing dramatic happened that would suggest a cure for her disease.
On her return home, while she was praying the rosary one day, she heard a gentle voice say, "Why don't you ask?" so she prayed earnestly once again to be healed of MS.
She awoke the next day, went to a class in her wheelchair, and began to feel sensations of heat and itching in her lower legs. To her astonishment she realized she could wiggle her toes. Thinking this must be muscle spasms, she dismissed it. Then, when she got home, she bent down to remove her leg braces and noticed that her right kneecap, which had been in a deformed, sideways position since the tendons were cut, had somehow migrated back to its normal position. She said later, "I just remember screaming, 'My God, my God, my leg is straight!'" Then she shed her remaining braces, removed her socks, tucked up her skirt, and said to herself, "If I am cured, I can run up the stairs!" - which she did, all thirteen steps. Her next venture was outdoors. She ran from the house through the woods, jumped a creek, came back covered with leaves and mud, and called her priest, shouting, "I'm healed! I'm healed!" The poor man thought she had gone mad. "I want you to sit down, calm down, take some aspirin and call your doctor," he stammered. Still babbling, she called a girlfriend, who came over and shared a good cry. The following Monday her husband took her to the rehabilitation hospital. Authors Caryle Hirshberg and Mark Barasch, in their book Remarkable Recovery, describe what happened:
The doctors who convened to examine her were flabbergasted. As the nurses scurried for her charts and patients gawked and craned, the doctors' reactions tellingly varied: [Klaus said,] "One of my doctors saw me and started to laugh. He thought I must have had a twin who I'd brought in to play a practical joke on him." Her neurologist, she says, was "so angry! He said there is no cure for MS, no such thing as miracles. He even called people at the hospital and told them I was a fraud and a fake.
There seemed little doubt about Klaus's cure. Dr. Donald Meisner examined her and found no trace of MS. When word of the case leaked out, he said to a local newspaper, "Spontaneous remissions of multiple sclerosis are possible. The only thing that doesn't fit here is that usually the permanent damage that had occurred up to the point of remission does not go away. In Rita's case, every evidence I could see would suggest that she is totally back to normal."
Some of Klaus's physicians were happy about her recovery. Her urologist, who had last seen her with her bladder swollen to many times normal size and incontinent, retested her and confirmed the organ had returned to normal. "He said there was no way he could explain it, that it was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen in all his years of practice, and then he cried." Klaus's neurological reports from around that time. It read,
Totally independent of any equipment....She has regained full strength of both lower extremities....Her deep tendon reflexes are all symmetrical and normal....A tremendous recovery, I am not sure where to place it in this short period of time. The patient did not get tired of demonstrating to me how good she was...I am very happy....
Rita Klaus's case is telling. I could you about many more that are equally dramatic.
Let us admit that we don't understand how these events are even possible. As Sir Arthur Eddington said about the uncertainty principle quantum physics in the early 20th century, "Something unknown is doing we don't know what."
I mentioned earlier that this event is being co-sponsored by the Washington Society of Jungian Psychology.
Where does Jung come in?
The ideas of Carl Jung, who lived from 1875 to 1961, fit hand-in-glove with what we have been saying here tonight.
As we have seen, scores of experiments suggest the ability of consciousness to make a difference "out there" in the natural world. One of the primary features of these studies is that distance and time do not matter; healing through intentions and prayer, for example, appear to be as effective from the other side of the world as at the bedside. Moreover, many studies suggest that the effects of intentions are not limited to the present moment.
This suggests that, in some dimension, our consciousness is not confined to the individual brain and body, as we've maintained throughout the twentieth century. Human consciousness appears unbounded. It seems to be, in some sense, nonlocal - a fancy word meaning "infinite."
Now, if something is infinite in time, it is forever; it is immortal. If it is infinite in space, it is everywhere; it is omnipresent.
Minds that are unbounded in space and time cannot be walled off from one another. In some sense they come together and form what our ancestors called the Universal Mind, or what Erwin Schrödinger, one of the great physicists of the 20th century, called the One Mind.
Now, bear in mind that infinitude in space and time are qualities that we have always associated with the divine. This means that we share qualities with the divine, or what Jung called the Godhead.
And so, over his lifetime, Carl Jung crafted a model of consciousness that included all the features that flow from the experiments we've looked at, including infinitude in space and time, immortality, unboundedness, and the unity of all minds.
Here's a sample of what Jung had to say on these points:
"The decisive question for man is: Is he related to something infinite or not? That is the telling question of his life."
"For him [the Westerner], the 'soul' is something pitifully small, unworthy, personal, subjective...[But the] soul is assuredly not small, but the radiant Godhead itself. "
"Spatial distance is, in the psychic sense, relative...[and] psychically contractile....[T]his nullification of space proceeds with great speed, so that perceptions of this kind occur almost simultaneously with the accident. We can therefore speak of a psychic nullification of time as well."
Jung believed that the afterlife, though perhaps not perfect, was nevertheless blissful. He nearly died from a heart attack in January 1944 and experienced a near-death experience. Afterward he wrote, "What happens after death is so unspeakably glorious that our imagination and our feelings do not suffice to form even an approximate conception of it.... The dissolution of our time-bound form in eternity brings no loss of meaning...."
"A man should be able to say he has done his best to form a conception of life after death, or to create some image of it - even if he must confess his failure. Not to have done so is a vital loss."
"As a doctor, I make every effort to strengthen
the belief in immortality."
None of the formal experiments in distant intentionality that I have mentioned were done during Jung's lifetime; they lay just around the corner.
But Jung clearly seemed to see them coming.
Jung arrived at his non-local view of consciousness through many, many avenues - his work with patients; his work in mythology, alchemy, and comparative religion; his own experiences -
- and also through his awareness of what was going on in certain areas of modern physics.
This was influenced by this association with the Nobel physicist Wolfgang Pauli, who was also a patient of Jung's.
I leave you with a caveat.
I've suggested that scientific medicine should make room for matters of the spirit.
But spirituality should never be held hostage to science, or made to be subservient to science.
Science can never really get its hands on spirit. Scientists have no spirit meters or soul scanners.
In other words, everything that counts cannot be counted.
The greatest scientists have known this.
So too have the greatest sages and mystics.
They are not waiting in the graves for the latest pronouncement from science, or for the results of the latest experiment in prayer.
Science can never give us the final word on spirit. In fact, "final" is not a concept that even belongs to science.
So, since nothing is final in science, we are always dealing with partial knowledge.
This is particularly true where mind, consciousness, and spirit are concerned.
That does not mean we should throw up our hands and ignore these issues, as I have tried to show.
Richard Horton, editor of the prestigious medical journal The Lancet, says, "We must act on facts and on the most accurate interpretation of them, using the best scientific information. That does not mean that we must sit back until we have 100 percent evidence about everything. When the...health of the individual is at stake...we should be prepared to take action to diminish those risks even when the scientific knowledge is not conclusive...."
Or as Murray Cohen reminds us, "The ark was made by amateurs, and the Titanic by the experts. Don't wait for the experts."
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